Sometimes I have Mom envy. I know I’m a Mom already, and there are women out there who just want to have babies. I get that. And I hope and pray that you’ll be blessed with a little one soon. But I’m not talking about that kind of Mom envy. I’m talking about the kind of Mom envy where everyone’s house and lives look way better than your own.
I’m talking about when you’re perusing the web and you see a picture perfect family. The one where he’s tall dark and handsome. And she’s blonde, thin and has perfectly straight teeth. And they have some perfectly adorable children, biological and adopted. And they travel the globe, doing amazing and fun things together as a family, and just look like they are winning at life. I want to be happy for them, and sometimes I am. But more often than not, seeing their photos and reading about their exciting experiences leaves me feeling empty and alone.
I know I am blessed with the tall (not so dark) and handsome hubby. At least, I think he is. But aside from that, nothing is the same. I’m far from thin, I definitely don’t have blonde hair or perfect teeth. Neither do my kids – not their teeth or their behaviour. (I’ll bet those perfect people don’t get multiple phone calls from the school when their kids have been up to no good). And those adopted children? I’d love to have them, but my plate is sort of overflowing.
Sometimes it gets me down. Sometimes I can’t see past their perfect smiles. And then, other times I can. Because not everyone can be as transparent as our family is. We joke about not having secrets, but really it’s very true. Even if we wanted to have secrets, the kids would spill to the next person they see. (Like when my son told the person sitting next to him at the Christmas concert that I almost burnt the house down because I was trying to make popcorn in the microwave.) Not everyone can share the hard stuff. Not everyone can write about the stuff that leaves them weeping. Not everyone is me. Not everyone has that story to tell.
And that’s the thing. Their story is not my story. My story is not your story. We all have our own lives, our own families, our own experiences. We all have our own moments where we shine. We all have our own failures (some are just better at keeping them in the dark as others.) We are all equal in that way.
But that’s where it stops. Because we can’t all be alike. No two snowflakes are the same. We all have our own individual fingerprints, our own individual DNA. We are all unique. We can’t have the same looks, the same children, the same trips around the globe. But we can stand united. Because even though we can’t have the same experiences, we still need each other.
Like that time I saw another autism Mom struggling to get her child together in the middle of Walmart. And there were groceries everywhere. It’s not the same experience I have every day, but it’s similar. So I know I couldn’t do anything to help her in that moment. But I could take her purse from the middle of the aisle and put it back in her cart. And give her one of those looks. The kind not everyone gives you when your child is melting in the store. A look not of disgust or distain but if solidarity and encouragment.
Like the time I saw another larger Mom trying on clothing at the store. Standing in front of mirrors that don’t show mercy, I watched as she stepped back feeling deflated. I’ve been there before. To be honest, I am there every day. Just trying to feel beautiful in a world that tells you you’re anything but. So I stood beside this woman for just a moment and told her what I would have wanted to hear. And watched as her shoulders rose back to where they should be. And as she turned away with a word of thanks, she went and bought the shirt. And I felt like maybe, just for a moment, I was winning at life. That maybe, for a minute, there was a reason why I face what I face.
It’s the first day if 2017. People usually make resolutions. Or they choose one little word they’re hoping will make their year the best it can be. This year, I just want to live intentionally. I want to tell my story. To feel, even if very briefly, like my story is worth having and worth sharing if not just for a single moment.
We may not have picture perfect lives. We may not have the children, or the trips, or the perfectly manicured lawns and gorgeous homes. But we all have a life worth living and sharing about. My prayer for this year is that we all experience life together. Not just the good bits, but the bad too. Because sometimes, when we are real, we remember we are just where we are meant to be.
I’m going to keep sharing my story. Because it isn’t glamorous. It isn’t beautiful. But it’s real. And it’s mine to tell, no matter what this year brings.